Catching up with Liga MX during the FIFA break

Pachuca and Cruz Azul were two of the big winners during the summer transfer window. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
Pachuca and Cruz Azul were two of the big winners during the summer transfer window. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /
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Liga MX FIFA break
Pumas forward Juan Ignacio Dinenno (#9) is shown a red card after his team’s match at Toluca last week. It was UNAM’s third red card of the game. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images) /

Pumas fail to improve, send team president packing

UNAM has seen its finances take a severe hit thanks to the pandemic, but their personnel decisions have been unimpressive.

Despite the self-imposed austerity plan, the Pumas announced their intention to invest wisely while relying on an injection of talent from their once-renowned academy. The project was not well executed and team president Jesús Ramírez stepped down on Aug. 25.

The scheme took a hit in preseason when winger Carlos Gutiérrez was lost for the season with a broken leg. The club then sold captain Juan Pablo Vigón to the Tigres, convinced that the windfall was too lucrative to pass up (even though they sold Vigón for less money than they spent to acquire him from Atlas two years ago).

In mid-August, the Pumas sold defender Johan Vásquez to Serie A side Genoa, a transaction that was beneficial for UNAM since earlier in the summer the club had bought out Vásquez’s contract who had been on loan from Monterrey.

But the influx of cash was not initially used to purchase replacements, and coach Andrés Lillini was asked to fill the two vacancies from within. As mentioned above, Arturo Ortiz was promoted from the team’s Liga de Expansión MX franchise, Pumas Tabasco and he has proved adequate.

As it became apparent that there were slim pickings in the academy teams, three undistinguished South Americans were brought in – Brazilians Higor Meritao and Rogerio Oliveira, and Ecuadorian Washington Corozo.

Soon thereafter, Cristian Battochio was announced as the replacement for Vigón, but the Argentine (who plays with an Italian passport) has yet to impress.

The more worrisome issue, however, has to do with internal dissension and disciplinary problems.

The biggest concern has to be the decline of fullback Alan Mozo who not so long ago seemed destined for a long national team career only to fall out of the picture thanks to poor conduct. Mozo has repeatedly violated Pumas team rules and he lost his starting job a year ago after reporting to the team out of shape. The 24-year-old also has an unnerving habit of picking up reckless red cards like he did against Toluca last weekend.

Striker Juan Ignacio Dinenno is also acting out now. After two solid seasons alongside Carlos González, his production took a dive after González was sold to the Tigres before last season. Reports indicate he is upset he was not sold to a European team (no takers, to be honest) and has been acting out at training camp, screaming at academy players and insulting team personnel. His poor attitude carried over to the Toluca game last week and he earned a red card AFTER the final whistle as his post-game yapping at the ref finally went too far.

The Pumas recently escaped the Liga MX cellar but have just one win and a –6 goal differential. Their best option appears to be to lean heavily on academy players in an effort to discover which ones could contribute to the upcoming rebuild.

Guadalajara’s best efforts stifled by lack of funds

After taking a step backward last season (eliminated in the wild card round a season after reaching the semifinals), Chivas management was eager to make a splash in the Liga MX transfer market. There was just one problem … they had no cash.

Liga MX at FIFA break
Chivas captain Jesús Molina laments a missed opportunity during a Liga MX match last month. (Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Guadalajara GM Ricardo Peláez quickly started talks with Pachuca in an effort to pry the versatile Erick Aguirre from the Tuzos, who refused to lower their asking price.

At the same time, the Chivas also re-opened talks over Pachuca midfielder Víctor Guzmán whose January 2020 acquisition (one of Peláez’s first moves upon taking the GM job) was scuttled when he failed a drug test. “El Pocho” served a 7-month suspension and returned to action with Pachuca last year but a knee injury has prevented him from returning to form.

Pachuca listened to the offers for both of its prized youngsters, but insisted any transaction must be in cash, rejecting the assets and players being proposed by Guadalajara.

Despite the ambitious plans and yeoman effort, Guadalajara was unable to enhance its roster, bringing in just a single new face – Pável Pérez, from the club’s own second-division side Tapatío. There was also a bit of addition by subtraction in July as disgruntled striker J.J. Macías was loaned out to Spain’s Getafe.

Heading into the summer, the front office had placed 13 players on the trading block, but ended up keeping four of them on their Liga MX roster, sending four down to Liga de Expansión MX teams and loaning out the rest.

dark. Next. Chivas soap opera takes new turn

A slow start to the Apertura 2021 has the club in turmoil again, and last week coach Víctor Manuel Vucetich provoked the ire of the front office and all Chivas fans by implying that he could not possibly win with the roster as currently assembled.